Saturday, June 10, 2006

Here We Go! / The Great Escape

Here we go!

4.38pm.Lewes Garret, garden It is beautiful out here and blisteringly hot. We watched the England - Paraguay match which was a triumph. Three points, under roasting conditions with a bizarre referee.

Of course the negative pundits are looking at the England - Paraguay game and picking fault with England's second-half performance and Sven's substitution decisions. What these soccer grandees forget is that the coach is planning an entire tournament, not just one match.

He is conserving England's naturally limited resources for the big matches and rightly so.

I must write a poem for next week's site update on England's World Cup hopes and the current football fever, and take a good, relevant photograph.

My front, downstairs window is a giant England flag, and a canvas England flag is tacked on to the first floor window as well.


The Great Escape (Flashback to Thursday, 25 May 2006)

7.29am. Lainesford Garret. The last day of the course. Rarely have I so been looking forward to the end of an event. I am very grateful to my Day-Job for sending me on this course, but doing it has made realise how damn good my previous tutors Chris Keeble and Tom Peters are.

As for my gang here, any bonding between us is purely superficial and temporary. I would be surprised if anyone on this course kept in regular contact, let alone became fast friends.

I have learnt quite a lot about myself, using them as a mirror, but I am dreading today, when, allegedly, they will be making a tape recording with their first impressions of me (and this for everyone). Time to shatter the surface of the Lake of Tranquillity i.e. go for a swim in their pool.

8.29am. It was colder in the pool today. Once again I was a lone swimmer, plashing through the fallen leaves on the surface.

On the way down to the pool, I played Frisbee with myself, running along to catch it. I then walked down the path and found shabby, disused buildings, a falling down greenhouse and old banger cars. It felt like I was looking at the back of a beautiful oil painting.

I packed randomly and rapidly, and climbed into my suit. My exit strategy is to say as little today and try to get out of this place with my ego as unscathed as possible. If I can, I will buy a big card for the tutors. They have not been brilliant but I do not want to leave them with hurt feelings!

4.27pm. Clapham Junction - Lewes train. Phew! I am out of there. A funny last day. It started strangely with the older tutor complaining that we were not all horribly hung-over.

'People used to get so drunk on the last night, we had to hire a specialist tutor to deal with them,' she said wistfully. We looked at her as if she was stark raving mad.

In our groups for one last time, I was touched by the feedback the other members of my group gave me. It was kinder than I deserved. We went round the group saying what we had thought of each other, while our tutor tape-recorded everything. It was quite emotional at times. I realised what an absolutely decent bunch of people they were.

At the end, the hilarious Welsh schools inspector joked to the tutor: 'Now it is your turn to receive feedback.' She almost had a fit, saying it was our course and, besides, there were no tapes left. The forester said: 'You can have my tape. I don't have a tape player.'

The tutor almost blew her top, and flatly refused to allow us to say what we thought of her and her teaching, claiming it was a waste of time (and missing the rather glaring fact that we were winding her up). She had totally lost us.

At lunchtime, I talked the people on the course into playing Frisbee. It was great fun. The forester was a tidy player; the rotund Scottish girl was game though static; the jolly mum was marvellously lacking in co-ordination; the Ministry of Defence chap was enthusiastic although butter-fingered; and I particularly enjoyed watching the graceful economist.

There was a bit more feedback in pairs in the afternoon, although we were now down to 10. The scientist had been taken sick, and the pregnant girl had returned to work - called back by her department. Then, at last, it was over.

The final task was filling out the evaluation form. This the tutors tried to rush. All the same, I had time to write that, although the content of the course was good, and, working with the people on it had been superb, the quality of presentation by the tutors was weak.

I mentioned the nursery language and their lack of engagement with us at mealtimes, and ended up saying that the course members understood each other far better than the tutors had done.

10.52pm. Lewes Garret. Just been checking out the supposed former owner of my bag, Albert Camus, famous French writer. I have not successfully cross-referenced the street name written inside the lid with him yet, but it is looking increasing likely that it really was the case of Albert Camus.

How extraordinary that the case of a surrealistic should have been used in my surreal comedy act; and that it should now carry my poetry. To be associated in this odd way with Albert Camus is a great omen.

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